Not All Elementary School Teachers Are Scared of Math


  • Christina Artemenko Orcid
  • Nicolas Masson Orcid
  • Carrie Georges Orcid
  • Hans-Christoph Nuerk Orcid
  • Krzysztof Cipora Orcid


Teachers are strong role models for their pupils, especially at the beginning of education. This also holds true for math: If teachers feel anxious about math, the consequences on the mathematical education of their pupils is detrimental. Previous studies have shown that (future) elementary school teachers have higher levels of math anxiety than most people studying other subjects. Here, we set out to conceptually replicate these findings (e.g., meta-analysis by Hembree, 1990, by comparing math anxiety levels of pre-service and in-service German and Belgian elementary school teachers to a reference group of German university students from various fields of study. Moreover, we questioned this finding by asking which elementary school teachers experience math anxiety, considering gender, specialization, and experience, and investigated how math anxiety relates to teaching attitudes towards math. We replicated the previous finding by showing that female elementary school teachers have a higher level of math anxiety as compared to other female students. Importantly, female elementary school teachers without math specialization indeed had higher levels of math anxiety than female students from other fields and almost a quarter of them experience critical math anxiety. In contrast, female elementary school teachers with math specialization did not show an increased level of math anxiety as compared to the reference sample. Considering that not only these but all teachers, regardless of specialization, teach math in elementary school in the investigated educational systems, the math anxiety of elementary school teachers is a potential problem for their pupils’ math attitudes and learning.